The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced more than $3.8 million — about 198 million rupees — in additional funding to Pakistan in support of the country's polio eradication program and flood relief efforts in Sindh province.
Recipients include the World Health Organization, which will work to assist more than two hundred polio-affected children; the government of Sindh, which will use the funds to help more than 4,440 families in two districts affected by this year's floods; and Save the Children, which is working to assist victims of the flooding. The support augments previously announced commitments by the Gates Foundation to WHO, UNICEF, and the World Bank and comes on the heels of a strategic partnership launched in August between the foundation and the Japan International Cooperation Agency aimed at bolstering Pakistan's fight against polio.
In the aftermath of the summer flooding, which damaged or destroyed millions of homes in Sindh province, the region experienced a significant polio outbreak; indeed, the province now accounts for nearly 20 percent of the 161 cases reported in the country. With support from the Gates Foundation, the provincial government is working to implement plans to boost accountability for the polio program at the union council level and ensure that vaccinators hired to dispense polio vaccines to individual households are qualified to administer the medicine, are properly trained and supervised, and receive their pay on time.
"If [these steps are] implemented well, rapid progress can be made in stopping the virus," said Michael Galway, a senior program officer at the foundation involved with the Pakistan program. "We hope our additional support demonstrates our ongoing commitment to Pakistan as it deals with multiple challenges in managing the intense transmission of polio while simultaneously responding to acute situations such as this year's flood in Sindh."